Oh my - the last email I pen for the 2021-22 school year is here! Before I go into all the details, I just want to THANK YOU for entrusting me and our staff with your children this year. It's been an honor and pleasure to teach and instill Judaism and Hebrew into their (and your) lives all year, and I so look forward to continuing to do so. We have a special community and experience going on at TNS. Here's the registration page for next year so you can sustain or begin such a connection - https://www.templenershalom.org/education.html. Please note - if your child has started to work with a Hebrew teacher this year (Andy, Michal, or Malca), we strongly encourage you register them as a Hebrew Plus student.
Another important link for you is this Feedback Form so we can improve on our school offerings in 2022-23. You'll see there are questions for the Sunday program, our weekday Hebrew program, and a section for the Community School Sessions. I really appreciate your time and feedback. PLEASE call, text, or email me if there are further comments/ideas to share. I always want to hear them and will work to incorporate more.
Family Shabbat, Shavuot, and Last Day Review
What a weekend we just shared! Our congregant, Rabbi Lon Moskowitz, led a beautiful Family Shabbat service, engaging our tots with lighting Shabbat candles up to our Bnei Mitzvah students leading prayers. Please note, we will take a pause on Family Shabbats over the summer. That said, regular Shabbat services continue regardless and we especially encourage our bnei mitzvah students to attend.
We also held a special Shavuot service during Hebrew school this past Sunday. Saeed Niku did a monumental job at leading this very lengthy service - and the kids did amazingly well at sitting during a good portion of it, and engaging with the Torah service! They learned about the book of Ruth, why we eat dairy on Shavuot, and experienced the rituals around taking the Torah out. Admittedly, they were already at the ice cream sundae bar when the Torah was returned to the ark :)
Finally, here are some images of the last day/Shavuot ice cream sundae bar. We had 2 birthdays yesterday (Eliana and Simon), and a slightly belated one (Leo) - so Yom Huledet Sameach to all!
Again, I so look forward to being with you for our 2022-23 year and building upon all we have done thus far. The adventure continues, and I'm grateful to be on it with all of you.
PS - there is a TNS congregational meeting on June 19. Our friend/fellow parent Isaac Feldman is going to be our next president! Please come if you can to support, share ideas, figure out new rabbinic direction, and so on. We have so much we have built up, and so much we still have to work on...
It's taken me a day or so, but I've now since reeled from an incredible weekend at TNS and out at the property. We really had so much going on - it was as beautiful as our TNS community continually proves to be. Thank you all for who took part, and we certainly missed any of you who couldn't make it! I hope all who have been sick regain health quickly!
Truly a boisterous TODAH RABAH to Ari, Darren, Lazer and Ruthie Leva. They put heart, soul and work into this weekend and our gratitude is real. So much so that families who often don’t camp are now ready to do so next time!!!! It’s because they further opened our eyes to the beauty of our property and what it and family connections offer.
Before the campout, we started last Shabbat with our Woman of Valor service led by yours truly. Many shared stories of mothers, grandmothers, and other inspirational females in their lives. At TNS we celebrate our female daven leaders, and are even so thoughtful as to give them flowers....
Saturday continued with a sweet baby naming for Simone (Eliana) Rutherford followed by dinner, Havdalah, and a bonfire. Community, college students, and TNS families all took part. Todah Rabah to the Rutherford family for the kiddush dinner and then to the Levas who really put together a beautiful campout experience. We had a few families, plus a girls and boys tent. First-time campers LOVED it! Stay tuned for more opportunities....
The feeling was so great around the bonfire that the next morning for Hebrew school we enjoyed Torah Talk out there too. The kids may have melted while I was trying to teach about Lag Baomer and the parsha, but I think they got a few nuggets of information :)
Otherwise, our teachers focused on Hebrew review and lessons, and our kids showed just how much have seeped into their brains during kids service. It's been wonderful hearing them belt out L'cha Dodi, Sim Shalom, and Adon Olam. I hope they all carry on sweet memories of such times....(at least associate M&Ms with them).
Lastly, please note we do NOT have Hebrew school next Sunday. And here's the plan for the beginning of June, which includes our last school session of the year:
In the meantime, see you over the coming weeks.
What a beautiful, engaging, and fun session on Israel we had as a Community School yesterday at CBD. This was our last one of the year, and I will be touching base with all of you to hear your thoughts on these all-area school sessions - to understand their successes and areas of growth.
Thank you to the teachers, Rabbi Matt, cantor Mark, and Tali Freed (Israeli dancing lead) for making it so successful. Between the conversations and understandings of Israeli geography, history, and reason for existence, I think we did it with honor for our children and parents. Also a thank you to Maxi and Sharon for helping with yesterday's Israeli shuk, where the kids enjoyed special Israeli snacks! Also thanks to Amber for making our Kotels where the kids put in special notes after singing Hatikva.
Coming Up this Shabbat!
We have such a full weekend at TNS - and I love how beautiful it is that we share this community together! Here's the rundown....please come for some or all of it!
Til soon (this Shabbat)
You may have all just seen my update for the May 21 Campout, so I will start with that before TNS school news:
Yesterday honored Mother's Day - teaching the kids how to say "Yom HaEm Sameach," and we took out our Chumashim to read in this past week's parsha, the very first commandment repeated in Kedoshim is to honor one's mother and father! We read the "Woman of Valor" proverb (in the Sim Shalom Siddur, page 310), and reviewed the Hebrew words for members of our mishpacha (our family). Here's a picture of yesterday's guests during Torah Talk - Ima (mom), Abba (dad), Yalda/Bat (female child/daughter), Yeled/Ben (male child/son), and Tinok (baby) - please try to review this with your kids! -
A big Todah Rabah to our newest student and Israeli guest, Assaf, who is living here in SLO for a short period of time, but will be a part of our TNS family until he returns to Israel. He speaks only Hebrew, so he is sharing his vocabulary with fellow kids and learning how we express Judaism here in America. Please introduce yourselves to his parents Idit and Baruch if you have the chance.
Class time focused on Hebrew terms, Israel, and Kavod, or respect. Individual Hebrew review continued with Binah and Malca. We also had a beautiful kiddush snack hosted by the Hartless-Romero's and leftover cake from our TNS New Member Family Shabbat this last Friday (thanks to Dinah)! The kids all shared one thing they were grateful for to eat the cake....the majority of them said MOM!
Upcoming TNS School Dates and Reminders:
Happiest of Mays, everyone!
I can't help myself - it's always been my favorite month, and it makes me happy hearing either The Temptations or Stevie Wonder croon about sunshine and love in the month of May. But, I'm biased....it's my birthday month, and Israel's too! Of course I'm focused on the latter here, but feel free to text a yom huledet sameach on cinco de mayo :).
So Rabbi Micah led a spirited session to start the kids off yesterday tying together Yom HaShoah just commemorated and Yom HaAtzamaut to celebrate on Thursday. He allowed space for questions, took the kids on an imaginary tour of Israel, and ended with Hatikva. Kids service and class time reinforced learning about Israel and singing its song of hope. Below are a smattering of Hatikvah videos to play at home. Below that - a picture of (my) Isaac as part of the Youth Symphony playing Hatikvah at Congregation Beth David for a Holocaust Remembrance Service led by Rabbi Micah. Please try to take a moment this Thursday with your family to sing, discuss, tell stories, and answer questions. As we all know, Israel is beautifully complicated - as are all things so authentically Jewish.
And, here are a few snapshots of our classes - the oldest focused on an in-depth talk on Israel, the middle on the idea of Kavod, or respect, and our youngest on the letter "samech" and more on Israel.
Please know we do have school this Sunday, May 8 on Mother's Day. PLEASE text me (805-295-0890) if you cannot attend, but know we will focus on family and Kavod (respect). There is MUCH more to come on learning about Israel at our Community Session on May 15. Please let me know if you can help out with that day or at least make sure to stay for the parent talk led by Rabbi Micah - it will be at Congregation Beth David.
I know that's a lot to read through and link to, but, here's a few reminders, since we have so much going on this month!
In the meantime, have a great week, yom huledet sameach Israel, and I hope to see many of you this Shabbat at our Family Service.
I do hope your kids mentioned yesterday's content at TNS school, as it was much to process after spending our first 45 minutes on the Holocaust. First of all - the kids did amazingly well. They were respectful, attentive, and inquisitive around such a serious matter. All took in the movie we screened (The Number on Great Grandpa's Arm) and engaged with Phylissa's presentation on her experiences with the March of the Living. Phylissa was inspiring and heartfelt as she spoke of her time with survivors who she marched alongside, and even dug out the coat to wear that all her fellow marchers did - not just to honor the memory of the Holocaust, but to show unity and pride in carrying on the Jewish people.
As you'll see in the pictures below - we also engaged our students in lighting candles and reading poetry. We had 6 yellow candles to represent the 6M Jews who perished, and each child had a chance to light their own candle to remember, honor, and hold the moment. Amber and Levi M. read outloud the "Butterfly" poem that many students did art projects on during class time; I read a Hannah Sennesh poem and explained her backstory.
I also want to thank the Bnei Mitzvah boys who attended this past Saturday's Shabbat service - Arie Bandari and Atticus Feldman. Seeing the two of them with their kippot and tallises on, both opening and closing the ark together, and being called up for an aliyah, was exemplary in how we carry on our traditions - and how our children learn to do so. Rabbi Micah certainly played a role in integrating them into the service. I'll continue to remind all about our Saturday services and look forward to ones to come.
In the meantime, there is much to put on your calendar for a community Yom HaShoah program, Friday Family services, our next Community School Session, and a TNS Family Campout! Here's the rundown:
What a glorious Sunday! I certainly hope your kids digest with you our weekly Sunday school, and at least shared one golden nugget they learned about Pesach. If they didn't yet, then prod them! We did A LOT this past Sunday; it should have oiled their wheels on some level for our upcoming big holiday.
Before I get into the recap, please note that next time we meet for school isn't until Sunday, April 24. However, TNS has Pesach services, so do come, help make a minyan, and expose your pre-bnei mitzvah kids to the Shabbat and Saturday morning services -
April 15/16 and April 22/23 - Pesach Services
April 16 led by Saeed Niku. April 23 with Yizkor led by Rabbi Micah.
Also, save the date for the following:
Sunday, May 15 - Community School Session (on Israel) at CBD
Saturday, May 21 - 9:30am Shabbat Service (with Baby Naming)
Saturday, May 21-Sunday, May 22- Lag BaOmer Family Camp Out at JCC Property (evite forthcoming)
Now, the recap from yesterday! We started off the morning with Rabbi Micah practicing (for at least a 3rd time) Ma Nishtanah with our kids, as well as a reminder of this beautiful holiday of freedom from slavery. Then we showed a claymation film, The Animated Haggadah, which captivated all our kids. You can stream it online free, so here's the link in case you missed it or want to view it at home again:
Then a shout out to Jake (who subbed for Michal), Joel, Amber, and Zoe who held down the fort with almost 30 children on their own. We were a slim staff this week but made it work! I know the kids learned even more about Pesach during class sessions....but, then mock seder time! Eliana and Dinah helped me with matzoh ball soup and other preparations, as did Dafna, Drew, and Maxi. Thank you to all else who brought the seder items, including parsley, matzoh, horseradish, charoset, roasted beet, haggadot, and more. Rabbi Micah led the kids in sweeping out the chametz during kiddush snack, and then led all of us during our mock seder. Next year in Jerusalem! (And next year, we're talking about a parent adult ed talk for Micah to teach us in guiding us better in preparing ourselves and our families more intentionally for Passover)
Our mock seder was full of lots of Jewish/Passover goodies including matzoh ball soup, matzoh brei, gefilte fish (some kids really liked it!), macaroons, and hard-boiled eggs. Aside from the food, Rabbi Micah guided us through traditional songs and blessings, and explained some of the why of what we do. We dipped our fingers to recite the 10 plagues and broke the middle matzoh to find the 5 afikomens! Shout out to Asher Storm who found the first one! Here's evidence of some of our other afikomen locaters :)
So, a hearty chag pesach sameach to you and all your loved ones. The Bandaris will be in Chicago starting at the end of the week through the seders, and then back in town for our second Pesach shabbat. In the meantime, please read and hold Rabbi Micah's Passover message coming out this week (you can read it in advance here). Lastly, please note our next school session will take place the Sunday before Yom HaShoah, so when we resume, we will be re-addressing a very serious subject. On that note, if you would like to help efforts in Ukraine, our TNS family, the Kovens, are involved in and looking for support with this one relocating families to Romania: Iași – The Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS - https://fjc-fsu.org/centers/iasi/
I wish you all a truly good yuntav and I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Lovely to see the rain come down today - and maybe lots of you are like me, enjoying a quieter night with all our cancelled extracurricular activities.
Speaking of quieter, yesterday definitely was as many of you happen to be out of town (and as a reminder, I really appreciate you texting or emailing me if you know you will be absent). But, we still had rich discussions during Torah Talk and class time, and continued to practice our Ma Nishtanah and regular songs/blessings during kids service.
TODAH RABAH to Jon-Erik Storm for leading Torah talk. Jon did a great job of making Parsha Shmini accessible to our large age span - he had the kids act out the fire where Aaron's sons perished, and linked our decisions to the laws of kashrut that are detailed in this torah portion. There was a lively discussion of foods to eat or not, and lots of student volunteers who engaged in the talk.
Class time focused on Passover, which is just around the corner. The kids have had fun playing "lost and found," akin to hunting for chametz before Pesach, and the afikomen at our Seders. But this game is also tied into teaching a Jewish value - Hashavat aveidah הֲשָׁבַת אֲבֵדָה is the value of returning a lost object when found. That is, we don't play finder's keepers, and consider the physical and emotional needs of whoever lost an object.
Thank you to Emma for leading our Nitzotzot class in this game and teaching yesterday.
In the older class, Shalhavot, continued the lessons on Koach Hadibbur כֹּחַ הַדִיבּוּר (the power of speech). In these lessons, we learn that asking questions and speaking up can be challenging but can have great impact on ourselves and others.
Our Gan class focused on the letter "Lamed" and teacher Amber talked about the Passover story with the kids, explaining how we were slaves in Egypt and trying to think about how hard it must have been.
Thank you to all the kids who continue to be so enthusiastic to lead kids service with me. Though the M&Ms are still most popular, they are all getting stronger and stronger at the prayers, including L'cha Dodi, Sim Shalom, Aleinu, Shma, and Adon Olam. Here is a link if you want to practice Ma Nishtanah at home, but we have been doing it on Sundays as well.
Next week details and beyond!
Friday, April 1 - Family Shabbat and Game Night
You should have all received the Evite for this Friday night! We will start off with a 6pm Tot Shabbat and Kid-dish, and continue into the Family Service with our older kids helping to lead on the bimah. Then stay for pizza, libations, snacks and games. It will be a really fun way to share Shabbat.
Sunday, April 3 - Mock Seder for all school families at 11:30am
We'll start Sunday school off at our normal time - you can let your kids know we get to watch a short film to start off next week! Then we invite all parents to come by 11:30 (or earlier to help set up) and share in a Mock Seder led by Rabbi Micah. This will be a fun way to help prepare ourselves and our kids for sharing in the Seder while learning about it too. If you haven't already, please sign up to bring a seder item - this will be a meal! I know we still need charoset makers, as well as matzah brei, kugel, or lasagna makers! Also great if anyone is willing to make a veggie matzoh ball soup!
April 3 - Women's Rosh Chodesh
Later that afternoon and after the mock seder, we will soak at Sycamore Springs and celebrate the new month at 4:30pm.
April 15/16 and April 22/23 - Pesach Services
TNS will have both Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat/Pesach services. Yizkor led by Rabbi Micah will be on April 23.
Please note -
NO TNS school on April 10 and 17
Save the Dates -
Sunday, May 15 - Community School Session at CBD
Saturday, May 21 - 9:30am Shabbat Service (with Baby Naming)
Saturday, May 21-Sunday, May 22- Lag BaOmer Family Camp Out at JCC Property
Lastly, I realized last week I skipped over a mention of our Purim Spiel, which was fun and full of good energy. Yasher Koach to Kristin and our cast, and a big thank you for your efforts. Now, on to Pesach!!!
All my best
First of all - THANK YOU to so many of you who came out for Erev Purim and made it so special! I hope you all got a chance to glance at our Purim 2022 album - https://photos.app.goo.gl/pYZGRk5KeLaEZTEDA. Of course the drink cart is a new TNS tradition, and we were so happy to celebrate Alex Barrett's bday that night! We even got to enjoy more cake this past Sunday, which is maybe why the kids had some extra shpilkes during kids service :)
This past Sunday, however, we moved on from Purim and got right into Passover. Rabbi Micah was in fantastic form (quite literally) teaching the kids about the meaning behind Ma Nishtanah, the 4 Questions, but also explaining how to understand the ancient notion of sacrifice in a modern way. He should do an adult ed session to explain that last part more to all of us, but take a look at the pics below to see the rabbi and kids already practicing their royal positions for dipping.
Meanwhile, we'll continue to recite the four questions, plus we are planning a Mock Seder for school on April 3! I definitely need your help - sign up on the Seder tab for a dish/seder item to bring, and we are encouraging parents to attend. This means we will alter our regular school schedule to accommodate the seder, where I plan to start class time early (at 930.10), and host the seder from 11am-12pm/1130-1230pm.
Also from this past Sunday, I want to commend Emma for substituting for our Shalhavot class, and Tristan for his book report on "Boy in the Striped Pajamas." Of course our staff, including Amber, Joel, Jake, and Binah, enhanced your kids' Sundays as well, but it's something to see our TNS teens and older students taking on such leadership. I texted many of you to let you know we discussed the Shoah this past Sunday. I want to commend our students as well, from ages 4-14, for holding such a serious subject so respectfully and engaging in the matter. They posed many questions (including into kids service), remained quiet and attentive, and showed how they feel the weight of understanding the importance of remembering.
More Calendar Dates to Note
Please keep these dates on your calendar, since we have a lot going on before and after our spring breaks!
Friday, April 1, 6pm - Family Shabbat Service at TNS with Rabbi Micah - come for the rabbi's tot service for the first 15 minutes, and stay with your older kids to help lead the regular service! Kids snacks and oneg provided!
Sunday, April 3, 11 or 11:30am - Mock Seder at TNS
Sunday April 3, 4:30pm - Rosh Chodesh at Sycamore Springs in Avila
Saturday, April 16, 9:30am - Saturday Pesach Shabbat Service
Saturday, May 21 - 9:30am Shabbat Service (with Baby Naming)
Saturday, May 21-Sunday, May 22- SAVE THE DATE - Lag BaOmer Family Camp Out at JCC Property
Please also note the calendar changes we have issued -
no religious school for April 10 and 17; and the next (and last) community session is scheduled for May 15.
Thank you all for all the support, participation, and encouragement you provide.
All my best
Religious School Director, Lauren Bandari
Mom, educator, Jewish community advocate, Lauren Bandari, has the privilege of running the TNS religious school. She is passionate about teaching and connecting our kids, solidifying a strong sense of Jewish identity, and finding joy in our beautiful traditions.